Japan's Bundesliga stars combined to give them a memorable 2-1 victory over Germany in World Cup Group E. - © IMAGO/Javier Garcia/Shutterstock/IMAGO/Shutterstock
Japan's Bundesliga stars combined to give them a memorable 2-1 victory over Germany in World Cup Group E. - © IMAGO/Javier Garcia/Shutterstock/IMAGO/Shutterstock
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Bundesliga duo Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano strike as Japan sink Germany in World Cup opener

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Freiburg's Ritsu Doan and Bochum's Takuma Asano helped Japan stun Germany in their opening group game of the 2022 World Cup, the Bundesliga pair firing the Samurai Blue to victory after Ilkay Gündogan's first-half penalty.

Goals: 1-0 Gündogan 33' (pen.), 1-1 Doan 75', 1-2 Asano 83' (assist: Itakura)

Japan served early notice of their intent as another Bundesliga duo, Wataru Endo and Daichi Kamada, dispossessed Gündogan, allowing Junya Ito to cross for Daizen Maeda to fire home – but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Germany soon took control of the game – boasting close to 80 per cent possession at one point – with Antonio Rüdiger heading wide and Joshua Kimmich testing Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda with a fierce drive. The four-time world champions continued to turn the screw, and their pressure told when Gonda brought down David Raum in the penalty area after a lovely ball across from Kimmich. Gündogan made no mistake from the spot, and taking the lead only seemed to sharpen Germany's appetite. Some well-worked combinations saw Kimmich and Jamal Musiala go close, while Kai Havertz also had a goal chalked off for offside as Hansi Flick's men reached half-time with a 1-0 lead.

Germany made a blistering start to the second period, with Serge Gnabry clipping the top of the crossbar after a marauding run from Thomas Müller. Musiala could then have scored one of the goals of the tournament after shimmying his way past the entire Japan defence, but blasted over the bar. Gündogan also found the woodwork before Gonda produced two excellent saves to keep out substitute Jonas Hofmann and Gnabry. Not wanting to be outdone, Manuel Neuer then clawed out a deflected effort from Ito, but the Germany captain was powerless to prevent Freiburg winger Doan equalising with practically his first touch, after good build-up work from fellow substitute Takumi Minamino. Things went from bad to worse for Flick's side as Asano deftly controlled a long free-kick forward from Ko Itakura, shrugged off Nico Schlotterbeck and slammed home to put the Samurai Blue in front. Mario Götze, Niclas Füllkrug and Youssoufa Moukoko were all thrown on in the closing stages, and Leon Goretzka fizzed an effort just wide, but Japan's Bundesliga-powered side held on to claim a famous win.

Match stats

  • Gündogan netted his first World Cup goal and 17th for Germany overall. The Gelsenkirchen native had only made one previous tournament appearance, in the group-stage win over Sweden in 2018.
  • Moukoko made history as the youngest Germany player to appear at a World Cup finals, aged 18 and three days. He breaks the record held by Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (19 years and two months, 1958 World Cup).
  • Germany lost their opening game for the third consecutive time at a major tournament, after the 2018 World Cup and UEFA Euro 2020.
  • Doan and Asano also opened their accounts at the World Cup. Both players were making their tournament debut.
  • There are no fewer than eight Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 players in Japan's World Cup squad: Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Doan (Freiburg), Asano (Bochum), Itakura (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Endo, Hiroki Ito, (both VfB Stuttgart), Maya Yoshida (Schalke) and Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Düsseldorf).
  • The furthest Japan have ever got at a World Cup is the round of 16. They progressed to that stage in 2002, 2010 and 2018.

Line-ups

Germany: Neuer (c) – Süle, Rüdiger, Schlotterbeck – Gnabry (Moukoko 90'), Kimmich, Gündogan (Goretzka 67'), Raum – Müller (Hofmann 67'), Musiala (Götze 79') – Havertz (Füllkrug 79')
Unused subs: Trapp, ter Stegen, Ginter, Kehrer, Klostermann, Günter, Bella-Kotchap, Brandt, Adeyemi 
Out:
Sane (knee)
Coach:
Hansi Flick

Japan: Gonda – Sakai (Minamino 75'), Itakura, Yoshida (c), Nagatomo (Mitoma 57') – Endo, Tanaka (Doan 71') – J. Ito, Kamada, Kubo (Tomiyasu 46') – Maeda (Asano 57')
Unused subs: Kawashima, Schmidt, Yamane, Taniguchi, Shibasaki, Morita, Machino, Ueda, Soma, H. Ito
Out:
-
Coach:
Hajime Moriyasu

As it happened!

1 - 2

(1 - 0)

Germany
SECOND HALF
Japan
FIFA World Cup
Group E, Matchday 1
Group E, Matchday 1 Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar
90'
+ 6

JAPAN BEAT GERMANY!

The corner is cleared, and the whistle sounds. Bundesliga duo Doan and Asano seal a famous comeback win for Japan over four-time world champions Germany. Absolute scenes!
90'
+ 6

DENIED!

Neuer rises among the ruck of shirts. Süle takes aim at the back post, but Stuttgart's Endo makes the block. He celebrates like his winning goal that kept VfB up on the final day of last season!
90'
+ 6

ALL OR NOTHING

Neuer's in the Japan penalty box as Kimmich prepares to swing in a free-kick from the right...
90'
+ 4

GORETZKA!

Phwoar! Not far away at all from Goretzka, who sends a first-time half volley wide from 18 yards. He caught it well - the shot just lacked a bit of precision.
90'

MOUKOKO TIME

Youssoufa Moukoko, Dortmund's 18-year-old striker, is on for Gnabry. Germany have SEVEN minutes to get something out of this...
90'

Substitution

sub
Youssoufa Moukoko
sub
Serge Gnabry
87'

CAVALRY...

Flick's preparing to roll the dice one last time. Japan have never beaten Germany...
83'

JAPAN LEAD!

What a turnaround. A long ball finds Bochum's Asano in the box. He shows fantastic control, before firing high past Neuer at his near post. Thunderous hit. What a story - a Japan comeback, made in the Bundesliga!
83'

Takuma Asano

GOAL!

1 : 2
Takuma Asano
79'

DOUBLE GERMANY SWITCH

Flick responds by sending on the top-scoring German in club football, Niclas Füllkrug. He scored on his international debut last week. And Mario Götze, the hero of 2014, is also on.
79'

Substitution

sub
Mario Götze
sub
Jamal Musiala
79'

Substitution

sub
Niclas Füllkrug
sub
Kai Havertz
75'

DOAN LEVELS!

The Freiburg man has Japan level against Germany! Again Neuer is forced into a save, but he can only put the ball back into the six-yard box where substitute Doan can tap in.
75'

Ritsu Doan

GOAL!

1 : 1
Ritsu Doan
75'

Substitution

sub
Takumi Minamino
sub
Hiroki Sakai
73'

NEUER TO THE RESCUE!

He's had very little to do all game but Neuer is there when needed again. Ito chests the ball down in the box and has a shot - deflected off Rüdiger - from six yards, but Neuer somehow adjusts to claw the ball away down to his left. Sakai then fires over the rebound with the goal gaping. This isn't over yet at 1-0...
72'

ALL-BUNDESLIGA CHANGE

An attacking switch for Japan as Freiburg's Doan comes on for Tanaka of Düsseldorf.
72'

Substitution

sub
Ritsu Doan
sub
Ao Tanaka
71'

DOUBLE GNABRY CHANCE!

Now the Bayern man has a couple of attempts. The first is parried away by the Japan goalkeeper but the ball comes back in and Gnabry leaps onto it from six yards. Again he's denied by Gonda.
70'

HOFMANN DANIED!

Kimmich with the clipped ball over the top. Gnabry is in behind and lays it to Hofmann, who's denied by Gonda from close range.
69'

JAPAN COMING OUT OF THEIR SHELL

The Asian champions have to make something happen and are now starting to push forward much more than we saw in the first half. But it means there could be more space for Germany to exploit if they can keep cool heads.
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67'

Substitution

sub
Jonas Hofmann
sub
Thomas Müller
67'

Substitution

sub
Leon Goretzka
sub
Ilkay Gündogan
67'

ITAKURA!

Deep corner from the left is met by Itakura. The Gladbach man plants his header back across goal, but Schlotterbeck is well positioned to clear before Neuer is called into action.
61'

ASANO OVER

Now Japan suddenly spark to life. Asano found to the left of centre, he gets the ball out of his feet but fires well over on the angle.
60'

OFF THE POST!

Müller lays the ball off to Musiala after a throw, the teenager taps it into the path of Gündogan, who's given time to shoot from 20 yards, but can only curl his low effort against the outside of the right post.
57'

DOUBLE SWITCH

Japan send on two more fresh faces, including Bochum's Takuma Asano.
57'

Substitution

sub
Takuma Asano
sub
Daizen Maeda
57'

Substitution

sub
Kaoru Mitoma
sub
Yuto Nagatomo
3:25
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WATCH: ANALYSING MUSIALA

If you're new to this Musiala kid, take a look at what he's all about in our analysis.
51'

OH JAMAL!

What a goal this would've been. Past one, past three, past a couple of other defenders as he finds a half yard of space in the box. Dead centre, 12 yards out, he then blazes over! Musiala has done everything but score so far on his World Cup debut.
50'

KAMADA DEFLECTED

Ito spins Schlotterbeck and keeps ahead of him as he tries to get into the box. He's half-tackled and the ball falls to Kamada, whose shot is deflected behind. Corner is immediately cleared, though.
47'

CLIPS THE WOODWORK!

Great run through the centre from Müller, shrugging off Endo. He lays it right to Gnabry, who hits it quickly but only clips the frame of the goal.
Kick-off!
45'
+ 6

Substitution

sub
Takehiro Tomiyasu
sub
Takefusa Kubo
45'
+ 6

HALF-TIME

Halfway through this first game of Group E and it's Ilkay Gündogan's 17th international goal - a penalty - that has Germany ahead in Qatar.
Half-time
45'
+ 6

MAEDA OFF TARGET

Suddenly Japan come close to getting level as Nagatomo fizzes in a cross. Maeda has to adjust his body and flicks his header only just wide.
45'
+ 4

OFFSIDE

Havertz tucks home a second after Kimmich has a shot parried and Gnabry squares in front of goal, but the Leverkusen youth product was beyond the last man before he tapped in.
45'
+ 1

ADDED TIME

Just the four extra minutes at the end of this half.
45'

MUSIALA!

Germany go through the middle this time with a couple of passes. It finishes at Musiala on the edge of the area. He drops a shoulder to sell Gladbach's Itakura a dummy and get off a shot, but it's always rising.
41'

MUCH OF THE SAME

Germany still seeing the vast majority of the ball as Kimmich fires off his country's 10th attempt of the half, this one going well over. Japan are yet to register a single attempt. Maeda's offside goal is the best we've seen from them.
camera-photo

NO MISTAKE FROM GÜNDOGAN!

Gündogan waits for Gonda to move to his left before putting the ball the other way and the former Dortmund and Nuremberg midfielder has his first World Cup goal. And Germany take a (probably deserved) lead.
33'

Ilkay Gündogan

GOAL!

1 : 0
Ilkay Gündogan
31'

PENALTY!

Great diagonal ball over the top finds Raum in space. Gonda comes flying out as the Leipzig man turns and is caught at the second attempt. The referee waits a moment and then points to the spot.
29'

GUNDO AGAIN!

Ball out to Raum on the left, whose cross is palmed by the flying Gonda only as far as Gündogan. Again Japan put bodies on the line and get in a crucial block from close range.
28'

STRAIGHT AT THE KEEPER

Another good move from Germany, this time down the right as Müller cuts back and it finds its way through to Gündogan 25 yards out. It's a good connection but straight at Gonda.
26'

PENALTY CHECK

There's a VAR check for a potential handball as a Havertz cross is blocked, but nothing doing there.
camera-photo

MUSIALA DOING MUSIALA THINGS

20'

KIMMICH!

There's the first real shot in anger. It's lovely play from Germany as Raum cuts back to Gündogan, who flicks it into the path of Musiala. He skips past one challenge but is dispossessed at the second attempt. The ball is free, though, and Kimmich latches onto it. Sweet strike but a comfortable height for Gonda to his right.
19'

ALL THE BALL

Germany are up at around 80% possession now. They've struggled to do much with it, so Kimmich goes long with a diagonal over the top. Gnabry just manages to keep it in, but but knock into the box is cleared away.
17'

JUST WIDE!

First German corner is delivered by Kimmich from the left. Rüdiger gets up highest at the back and tries to beat Gonda at the near post but only finds the side netting. May have been better off nodding that back into the danger zone.
14'

FIRST NOTABLE ATTACK

Germany finally manage to get through that Japan press and get Musiala into space on the left. He exchanges passes on the edge of the box and lays it off to Kimmich, who has a crack but it's blocked by a flying Japanese defender from close range. Can't fault the commitment from either side.
9'

A WARNING

That should be an early warning for Germany. They're being harried by these Japanese players and getting no time to settle despite seeing most of the ball.
8'

RULED OUT

Japan have the ball in the net first as Gündogan is dispossessed in midfield by Kamada and the Samurai Blue break down the right through Ito. He squares to the far post, where Maeda slides in to turn it home, but he'd gone too early and is immediately flagged offside.
4'

FOOT RACE

Long ball again from Japan looking to get behind Rüdiger. He's been hounded by the smaller but rapid Maeda. The ex-Stuttgart centre-back manages to earn a goal-kick out of it, though.
1'

CLASSIC NEUER

The Germany skipper is alert as ever to a long ball and out of his box to coolly head down to Schlotterbeck.
Kick-off!

HERE COME THE TEAMS

Plenty of proud faces as the two sets of players walk out in Qatar for the national anthems.
camera-photo

CAP 119 FOR MÜLLER

He needs two more after today to go level with Bastian Schweinsteiger in fourth place on Germany's all-time appearance list. This will be his 17th game at a World Cup finals - only 10 players have played more for the country. But he's scored 10 goals in that time, trailing only Jürgen Klinsmann (11), Gerd Müller (14) and Miroslav Klose (16).
camera-photo

WORLD CUP BOW

Musiala is one of 15 players in this Germany squad about to make their World Cup debuts. Neuer, Müller, Ginter and the returning Mario Götze are the only members of the team who won the title back in 2014.

JAPAN TEAM NEWS

The Samurai Blue start this game with an XI consisting of five Bundesliga players in centre-backs Ko Itakura (Gladbach) and captain Maya Yoshida (Schalke). The midfield pair of Wataru Endo and Ao Tanaka represent Stuttgart and Fortuna Düsseldorf respectively. Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada is the creative influence. Right-back Hiroki Sakai is ex-Hannover. Ritsu Doan, Takuma Asano and Hiroki Ito are on the bench.
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FIREPOWER ON THE BENCH

As confirmed a couple of days ago, Leroy Sane sits this one out and is the only absentee in the Germany squad. There’s also no out-and-out striker in the starting XI, but Niclas Füllkrug and Youssoufa Moukoko – who both earned their first senior caps in the warm-up win over Oman – are on the bench and could be called upon. Flick highlights Füllkrug’s habit for late goals with club Werder Bremen – an ability he demonstrated with the winner against Oman as he crowned his second consecutive Bundesliga Player of the Month award.

GERMANY TEAM NEWS

The big news for Germany is that Thomas Müller starts for the first time in a month after a hip issue. Nico Schlotterbeck has been thrown in the deep end to partner Antonio Rüdiger in central defence, so Niklas Süle shifts to right-back, where he has often played for Dortmund this season. Ilkay Gündogan partners Joshua Kimmich in midfield, while Müller’s Bayern teammates of Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry form the trio behind false nine Kai Havertz.

JAPAN BENCH

Kawashima, Schmidt, Yamane, Taniguchi, Shibasaki, Doan, Mitoma, Minamino, Morita, Tomiyasu, Asano, Machino, Ueda, Soma, H. Ito

JAPAN XI

Gonda – Sakai, Yoshida (c), Itakura, Nagatomo – Endo, Tanaka – Kubo, Kamada, J. Ito – Maeda

GERMANY BENCH

Trapp, ter Stegen, Ginter, Kehrer, Klostermann, Günter, Bella-Kotchap, Goretzka, Götze, Brandt, Hofmann, Füllkrug, Adeyemi, Moukoko

GERMANY XI

Neuer (c) – Süle, Rüdiger, Schlotterbeck, Raum – Kimmich, Gündogan – Gnabry, Müller, Musiala – Havertz
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BEHIND ENEMY LINES

Japan's captain is one of those eight players plying their club trade in the Bundesliga, and Schalke centre-back Maya Yoshida has spoken of the benefits of having so many Germany-based players in the team: "You learn a huge amount playing in a country who have been world champions several times. We try to give our teammates information about our opponents. Overall it's satisfying to see so many of our guys playing abroad."

FIRST WORLD CUP MEETING

This is Japan’s seventh World Cup finals appearance, having qualified for every tournament since 1998. The Blue Samurai have never before faced Germany in a competitive fixture. There have only been two friendly encounters in 2004 and 2006. The Germans won the first 3-0 in Yokohama thanks to a Miroslav Klose brace sandwiching a Michael Ballack goal. There was then a 2-2 draw at Leverkusen’s BayArena where late Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger strikes cancelled out a Naohiro Takahara double.

FLICK OUTS HIMSELF

“I have to out myself as a fan of Japanese football,” Flick declared in the build-up. “They’ve very well educated in terms of tactics and technique. It’s a very big job coming our way. But we’re going into the game well prepared. Everything’s possible, we’ve seen that today [referring to Saudi Arabia’s win against Argentina]. You can’t underestimate any opponent.”
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WATCH: KAMADA’S GOALS AND ASSISTS

Frankfurt’s Kamada has been the man singled out in this Japan squad. The attacking midfielder has been in superb form for his club, scoring 12 times and providing four assists in 22 games across the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup. “He’s very intelligent, very eager to play and good on the ball. He’s scored a few goals in the Bundesliga recently. In general, the Japanese have many players in the Bundesliga. They are almost all very fast and agile, very strong on the ball and good technicians. We need to be on our guard,” was the assessment of Joshua Kimmich yesterday.
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WATCH: THE BUNDESLIGA'S INTERNATIONAL BRIDAGE

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JAPAN’S BUNDESLIGA CORE

For Bundesliga lovers, this is the match of the tournament. Thirty players across these two 26-man squads ply their trade in Germany. In fact, only Flick has selected more Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2-based players than Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu at this World Cup. Ko Itakura (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Maya Yoshida (Schalke), Wataru Endo, Hiroki Ito (both VfB Stuttgart) and Takuma Asano (Bochum) make it eight players from Germany’s top two tiers among the Blue Samurais.

“THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE”

The events of 2018 perhaps mean there’s a feeling of the pressure being off this time, but when it comes to World Cups, Germany as a country always believes. “All big nations set themselves the goal of becoming world champions. That’s why we’re here in Qatar,” Flick affirmed yesterday. “I think you need to deal with pressure positively. We have to go to our absolute limit in terms of performances. We can expect that from the players because they have enormous quality.”

GERMANY’S WORLD CUP HISTORY

This is the 22 edition of the World Cup and the 20th time Germany have featured at the finals. They have reached the semis on 12 occasions and gone on to lift the trophy four times. They most recently did it in 2014 under Joachim Löw, with Flick as assistant. They succumbed to the champions’ curse four years ago with a group-stage exit in Russia. How will they do now up against Japan, Spain and Costa Rica?
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WATCH: THE GERMANY SQUAD

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EARLY TEAM NEWS

Flick held his pre-match press conference yesterday and confirmed that Thomas Müller “is an option” and has been doing very well in training. However, Leroy Sane will not feature due to a knee issue. “He’s a player who can make the difference [but] there’s hope he can maybe play on Sunday [against Spain]. We and the medical team are working on that,” the 57-year-old added ahead of his first World Cup match as the main man in charge.

HALLO! KONNICHIWA! MARHABA!

We’ve had three days of action already at the 2022 World Cup, but today it’s Germany’s turn to kick off their 20th World Cup campaign and quest for a fifth crown. Hansi Flick’s men start against a Japan team brimming with Bundesliga players at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan. The game kicks off at 2pm CET.